The so-called "Cultural Segment" of the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games featured a giant bear, killer whales, maple leafs, a Druidic ballet among the towering Douglas Firs, totem poles, golden fields of prairie wheat, and some of our wonderful Canadian performers, most notably k.d. lang.
But displays of Canada's astounding beauty do not a "cultural segment" make. In the entire ceremony, there was no reference to Canada's history -- no Jesuit missionaries, no fur trade, no transcontinental railway, no lumberjacks, no gold rush, no fishermen, no reference to our Britannic heritage. Because of course we couldn't touch on any of those subjects without making apologetic references to imperialism and environmental degradation. The dignitaries praised our multiculturalism of course. What else could they safely praise, after all. I really enjoyed, and was moved by, the First Nations segment, in which dozens of First Nations performers from across the country danced and sang and welcomed the athletes. But it was no surprise to me that the rest of us have reached the stage where we cannot -- cannot -- talk about ourselves. What is the fate of a culture that cannot talk about itself, I wonder. Thank goodness for the fiddlers, at least.
Lona Manning lives in British Columbia, Canada.